Chasing an orchestra around the world

img005I had to laugh when I stumbled upon Cincinnati Enquirer critic Henry Humphreys’ description of trying to catch up with the Cincinnati Symphony on its 1966 World Tour. The ’round-the-world tour was famously funded by the U.S. State Department, but apparently, they didn’t fund Henry’s trip… Because of journalistic standards, his — and my — employer has always paid the critic’s way. One of the most common assumptions I hear from readers is that the orchestra pays for and provides accommodations, etc., for the accompanying critic on tours.

Not so. Until about 10 years ago, I was not even allowed on the bus with musicians to get to concert halls in far-away foreign cities, and I always book my own flights and hotels. Once, I nearly missed a show in Vienna’s Musikverein when my connecting flight was canceled from Amsterdam. A flight attendant tracked down my luggage sitting on the tarmac, or it might still be there, and literally threw it on a plane they had found to take me to Wien… I have so many stories. But here’s Henry’s:

“Enquirer music critic Henry S. Humphreys barely made the delayed opening concert of the CSO world tour at Salonika. There was no space available on CSO flights from Athens to Salonika. No bus space. He was sold a train ticket, then thrown off the train because it was over-crowded. He returned to Athens airport, wrangled a seat near crew of plane which took off after a 55-minute argument about whether takeoff should be made. No hotel room in Salonika for Humphreys, so he located attic boarding house space. He could have used a fan — even a palm leaf one, he says.”



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